Friday, January 30, 2009

More Christmas fun

During December the company Kevin works for hosted two Christmas parties--one just for adults, and one for families. Our sweet friends Adam and Karen watched our kids for us so we could go to the adult party.

It was held at the Wildlife Experience museum and was pretty fancy. Yummy catered food, a hosted bar, etc. (Of course, I was pregnant at the time so I couldn't take advantage of the free alcohol. When I asked the bartender for a water, he promptly put a wedge of lemon and a stir-stick in and told me that now no one would have to know that it was just water. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight. Because I'm SO ashamed to be avoiding fetal alcohol syndrome, and at 27 years old I must REALLY care about impressing my husband's engineering coworkers by DRINKING???!!!!!!! I didn't care in high school and college, and I surely don't care now. But I digress...)

After dinner we checked out the museum, nothing too exciting. But it was a great night and the first time Kevin and I had been out by ourselves since our anniversary in June. (Don't feel sorry for us, I can assure you we get lots of "us" time each night when the kids go to bed, and we're not on the brink of divorce or anything. We're just not the types of people who NEED lots of "us" time outside the house. (Which I guess is a good thing when you have four small kids!) At this phase in our lives, we are perfectly content playing cards or chatting or watching something or reading together.)

Check me out standing by the stuffed buffalo! And yes I do look pregnant, because, well, I was. :) My stomach was HUGE and I felt SO self-conscious because no one there knew I was pregnant. Oh well!

About a week later we went to the family party. It was also pretty high-class, which I wish I would have known ahead of time since my kids arrived wearing jeans. (So were other kids, but had I known I would have had them dress up, oh well.) The big highlight was Santa! The first time my kids got to meet him! Every one of them, including Kaitlyn, sat on his lap without crying!
The four kids standing in line to meet Santa.


Kaitlyn and her daddy.

Meeting Santa!

Anyway, it was such a blessing to get to meet Kevin's coworkers and attend these events. At his old job, they never did ANYthing like this (cheapskates! Ha!). Anyway, it was a ton of fun! (Even if Santa DID ask many an awkward, personal question about our sons and tell Kevin he better keep his job for the health insurance alone (?) We tried telling Santa our boys were healthy, but I don't think he really believed us. Whatever. I saw him pull up in a beat-up old pick-up truck, NOT a sleigh, so I really have to wonder if he's even the real Santa Claus anyway.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I really haven't blogged about our trip to California yet. We drove out there in one day (yes, one day, in one shot. We left Denver at 5 am and got to my parents' house at 2:30 am. Wouldn't have taken so long except that when you're crossing the Rocky Mountains in a snowstorm, you can't really see. And we got a FLAT TIRE in Nevada. Yeah. I know. I felt like we were in a modern version of that "Oregon Trail" computer game.)

Don't believe me about the storm? Check out these (which weren't even the worst of it):

Oh, you don't see the road or the lanes? That's because there ARE no lanes, because they're covered in snow.

Anyway, one of the fun things we did was have lunch with some sweet, sweet friends. What a blast to get to visit with Todd and Jill and Mike and Katie! The kids (we have 12 kids between all of us!) ran around and played while we chatted and caught up. Todd and Jill brought home their son Daniel from Ethiopia about five months after we moved, so we were SO anxious to meet him. What a sweetie! He's also from the same orphanage/agency as our sons, so that is a neat connection too. Mike and Katie have a son from Ethiopia as well.

Handsome men from Ethiopia: Biniam, Eli, Yosef and Daniel

All my kids seemed to pick up with their friends right where they'd left off. It was as if we'd never left. Priceless.

Other highlights of the trip were dinner with Mike and Kristen (and getting to meet their new baby, and playing cards, and playing "The Office" trivia game, and saying "that's what she said"), a fun girls' night with Jeannett, Joy, Lara and Becky, and New Year's Eve with Troy and Becky and Darin and Lara. (We didn't get back to my parents' till four a.m. This always seems to happen with Darin and Lara!) We also got to see several friends at lunch after church one Sunday, including Ryan and (pregnant!) Sandy. Why oh why did I not take more pictures?!

New Year's Eve. What a blessing to be with dear friends at the end of a very emotionally difficult day. We had so much fun!

One of my favorite days was the day we spent out at my friend Rebekah's house. We've been BFF's since THIRD GRADE and our kids just love each other. It's awesome. It was SO good to catch up on life and just be together. I felt really sad when we drove away. Maybe someday they can be convinced to move to Colorado. :)

On New Year's Day, my aunt and uncle and cousins came over with my cousins' kids. It was so neat to see all the kids together!

God has been so good to us during this transition, but we greatly miss our dear friends and family in California. It was a blessing to spend time with each one of you!!!

I'll share some more about our time there soon!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Someone thinks I'm fabulous!

I just got this blog award from my friend Jennifer! Quite an honor considering how fabulous SHE is. I'm now supposed to pass it on to five more people, and then share five addictions. (Yes, even fabulous people have addictions. :) )

My name is Brianna Heldt and I am addicted to:

1.) Coffee. With lots of sugar and cream. I And usually I drink decaf! But I'm still addicted. My goal is to convince my coffee-hating husband to start drinking with me. Because it's never as much fun to drink alone.

2.) Reading. I love a good book. Right now I'm reading Jane Eyre. (Does it get any better than classic British literature? I think not!) I have too many favorites to mention, but some that I really loved were: There is No Me Without You, The Hiding Place, Pride and Prejudice, Too Small to Ignore, Khaled Housseini's books, The Good News About Injustice, and then anything by CS Lewis (see dear, you got me hooked on your addiction, is coffee really too much to ask?) I also loved the Francis Schaeffer book I read. He is an amazing thinker. Most books I read are non-fiction, but I love a good fiction book too. Problem is, I'm picky. But I do love the classics.

3.) Salad. Yes, salad. I could eat this every day (and often do.) One of my favorites is the steak salad at Firestone Grill. Yummmmm. (All you SLO friends know what I'm talking about! I miss Firestone. And tri-tip in general. I doubt they have that here, being that it orginated in our former home of Santa Maria. There, that's something SM has on SLO. :) )

4.) Candy Cane Joe Joes. What more can I say? I could eat an entire box in one sitting. And the dark-chocolate-covered ones?! OH MY GOODNESS. Paige, what an amazing gift!!! (And TJ's, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come to Denver!)

5.) Thrift-stores. I LOVE buying things second-hand--clothes, books, you name it. I've found some good ones here in Denver and I am a frequent customer for sure. In fact, I rarely buy brand new clothes or books anymore, period.

I can think of many fabulous people, but I'm going to limit it to people I've "met" through blogging. Each of these women is incredibly inspiring to me. And quite fabulous!
Angela (I do know her in real life, but we met first on the internet)
Jennifer (are tag-backs aloud??? :) )

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First snowman

So far, while we get snow regularly, we never get a ton at once. My kids had been DYing to make a snowman (as in, ever since we told them we were moving here!), so one day while they were playing outside, they went for it.

It's a little small, but they did it all by themselves--all I did was hand Anna two raisins and a carrot. :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Feature article

This is an article all about a great organization called From HIV to Home, founded by my friend Jennifer. Her family is so extremely inspiring, and I am truly blessed to know them. She was one of my very first friends in Denver! (And to think that blogging brought us together. Yes friends, God even works through blogs. :) )

If you're considering adoption, please take the time to think about the many "waiting children" who are HIV+. If you have any questions, please take the time to get in touch with From HIV to Home.

On a personal note, the adoption of our own sons (nearly three years ago!) was not a "medical needs" adoption. While we were open to various needs, in the end we received a referral for Yosef and Biniam. We do believe any of our future adoptions will involve some sort of special need. After visiting the AHOPE orphanage on our trip to Ethiopia, we knew deep in our souls that God wanted us to remember the children there. Sometimes you see things and they change your life. That orphanage was one of those things. I'm sure we'll be back.

Part of me really doesn't like saying "I hope/plan/want to adopt again", because at the moment I'm not doing a darn thing to work towards that, and it's all just talk while millions of orphans are waiting for families. I firmly believe that three and a half years ago, God told us to adopt. I trust Him to show us when it's the right time again. It's hard to describe...I'm not waiting for a lightening strike or an audible voice from Heaven (but oh how nice would that be!--the audible voice, not the lightening!)...I'm seeking God's plans for my life...and I just know that if I'm actively trying to follow, trust, and love Jesus, we'll know when/if it's right. In the meantime we find other ways to care for the fatherless.

Well that was some rambling. :) All of that to say,

1). Read the article, and

2). Consider whether you might be interested in learning more about the adoption of HIV-affected children, and

3). Contact From HIV to Home with your questions.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Thousand Questions

Love this video. Truly worth watching, especially if you've ever wrestled (like me) with hard questions or the injustices we see all around us. Please take the time to check it out. I think you'll be glad you did.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Playing catch-up

We have been so incredibly busy lately.
I have been terribly unmotivated to clean.
I'm completely behind on Motivated Moms.
So today I'm catching up.

I cleaned the bathroom.
I cleaned the kitchen.
I took down the Christmas tree.

I will wash our sheets.
I will sweep and mop.
I will make dinner.

Speaking of which, tonight I'm making Grilled Orange and Bourbon Salmon. Check out my friend Joy's blog for the recipe!!!

I'm exhausted, but my counters are sparkling and it feels good to be getting caught up. I do SO MUCH tidying up, laundry, and sweeping up crumbs on a daily basis that the idea of actually CLEANING seems very daunting. That's why I'm going to give another shout-out to the Motivated Moms Chore Planner. Really. It beats trying to clean your entire home in one day by far!

New holiday tradition

Every Christmas the city of Denver holds the Denver Parade of Lights downtown. So last month we decided to bundle everybody up and go to the parade.

We live super close to a light rail station, so we opted to take the train downtown so we wouldn't have to worry about parking. I know, how very urban of us. :)

It was about 40 degrees, so not TOO cold, and the kids had a blast. We got some good seats along the route and the highlight was, of course, seeing Santa at the end.

Okay I take that back. I think the highlight for the kids was riding the train. :) This will definitely be a yearly tradition for us!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Belated Thanksgiving post

Yes, you read that right. I am JUST NOW sharing our Thanksgiving pictures. And it's January 22nd! I know, you're speechless, and downright impressed that people like me even exist. Well, believe it! I am a procrastinator, always have been, and surely always will be. I guess now you won't be surprised when I confess to you that today's job is taking down the Christmas tree. Oh, the shame! Can we still be blog-friends? Okay, now that we have that out of the way...

We were blessed to spend our first Colorado Thanksgiving down in Castle Rock with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law Mike and Rachel, our nieces Aubrey and Ainsley, and some friends of Mike and Rachel's, Jay and Jenna, and their little girl Laina. Two comments about this picture: first, I need to take off my (tall) shoes before standing in a picture with people who AREN'T wearing ANY shoes. You know, so I don't look like a GIANT. Second, look at how Biniam and sweet little Ainsley are totally smiling at each other! SO CUTE! My kids love their cousins!

There was SO much wonderful food, and a good time was had by all. Here's the day in pictures:

This is the apple pie I baked, my first-ever.

The kids outside our house before we left. I love this picture.

The standard kid-table

Kaitlyn, happy as a clam at the adult table

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we set out to run some errands and went out to lunch, partially to celebrate me getting my sense of taste back (remember, I'd had a sinus infection). We took pictures, not sure why. But here they are.

The kids on our street. They love snow. Possibly more than anything!
Me and Kaitlyn--SO cute drinking out of a straw!
Kevin with Anna and Yosef
Me and Biniam

So that was our first holiday in Denver. We had a blast and it is so neat to think that my kids are actually building relationships with their cousins and aunt and uncle. When we all still lived in California we never did holidays together really, so it's been pretty neat.

Now if I can just find the camera cord for our NEW camera, I can upload THOSE pictures and maybe get you caught up on our life a little bit! Oh and does anyone else feel like any time they go to Chili's, they're stepping right into an episode of The Office????

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday fun

I just got home about an hour ago from spending the morning with three fantastic ladies. The sixteen kids we have between us played happily. The.whole.time.

And in a few hours, I'm leaving for a sleepover! The homeschool group I'm in was supposed to be going to a conference this weekend. The conference was cancelled, and so one of the women in the group offered to host a sleepover at her house instead. FUN! We're meeting for dinner at a restaurant first. My kids will be home with Daddy watching "Horton Hears a Who". I love being married to a guy who doesn't see his time with the kids as "babysitting" and who is 100% proficient in the areas of meal prep, discipline, tooth-brushing and bedtimes. :)

Now if I can just get some housework done before it's time to leave...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Resolution #2

My first New Year's resolution was to be more organized with my life. So far it's going pretty well. I'm doing a better job of maintaining my home and am much less stressed about it in general.

My second resolution is to read the Bible every day.

I'm going through the One-Year Chronological Bible. So right now I'm in Genesis. (Side-note: this Bible was my very first Christmas gift from my very first boyfriend while we were dating. Thanks Kev! :) )

And I LOVE the Old Testament. I love learning about ancient history and seeing how God lovingly provided for His people and used them in spite of their many, many imperfections and repeated mistakes. What an encouragement to us! Not everyone in blogland probably reads the Bible but it is quite an amazing book about quite an amazing God.

My ultimate goal is to get up early (as in, no later than 7 am--yes, I know, I am so NOT a morning person!), spend some time with Kevin before work and read it then while I drink my coffee. We'll see. I have a really hard time getting up if I don't have to!

Educational philosophies...

Anna reading a book. And Kaitlyn taking things very seriously, as usual. :)

...make my brain hurt. Have you read any of this stuff? Charlotte Mason, The Well Trained Mind, Ruth Beechick, Dorothy Sayers, Delight-Directed Learning, oh my goodness. (The sick thing is, I actually find it interesting. I like reading about them. My poor husband, however, is probably tired of hearing terms like "classical education" and "living books.")

We've decided to homeschool Anna next year. This only after much thinking, reading, praying, vascillating, discussing, etc. etc. There is a GREAT program through a local public school district where Anna will attend school one full-day per week--next year it will be a wonderful kindergarten class, and starting in 1st grade, she'll get to choose her classes. The school offers a ton of fine arts including piano, violin, drama, choir, art, etc. Because it's through a public school district, there's no tuition fee or anything. (The school itself isn't public though, it's for homeschoolers.) Two of my dear blogging-turned-real-life-friends, Angela and Jennifer, have children who attend this school. I've gotten to know some of the teachers a little bit through a bookstudy I've attended, and they're wonderful.

I did not come to this decision lightly. I do have a few reservations about homeschooling, and I DON'T have too many reservations about public schooling. (Confusing, isn't it?) BUT, I think this will be a great fit for our family and for myself. My hope is to raise life-long learners who have fallen in love with the Lord and who understand God's story of the world He created. For us, at this point, I feel this is the way God is leading us to do it.

My main concern about homeschooling is that I really don't want my kids overly-sheltered from the world and the people that God loves so much. I feel a responsibility to pray about how God can use us and keep us from living in a Christian bubble. I also want to say that I do not take issue with the public school system or teachers, I think you can get a good education there, and ultimately education is about more than the textbook or lecture anyhow. My dad is a public schoolteacher, I have friends who teach in the public schools, and they all do an amazing job.

I'd really like to recommend the book Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School. (Yes, I know I'm not sending my kids to public school, but I really think it's important for anyone with school-age kids to read. It's inspiring and encouraging.) I'd posted before about the merits of public school, and I stand by what I said. This book is an excellent portrayal of the benefits of public schooling from a Biblical perspective. Read it!!!

ANYway, that's where we're at. I'm sure at some point I'll share more about how we arrived at our decision and why. Now back to muddling through the varying philosophies and attempting to figure them out! :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Assorted things (because I still need to upload my pictures off my camera)

First off, here is a picture of the inside of the Polestar calendar I was talking about, for Amber:

Second, I bought my 2009 calendar off Ebay (it was new, but less expensive and I figured I'd get it sooner.) I just got an email though saying there was a mistake, they're refunding my Paypal account, and yeah, no calendar. SO I go to order it off the Polestar site...and THEY only accept Visa or Mastercard...and our Mastercards have expired so we're waiting on our new ones. So yeah, again, no calendar. I have all this stuff going on and it's not written down anywhere! Grrrr.
UPDATED: Our cards arrived in the mail today, so my calendar has been succesfully ordered through the Polestar site. Yay!

Today I ventured out into quite a bit of snow. (It took me a long time to get it all off my windshield...ah, the joys of a detached garage that is still filled with a bunch of our junk--er, posessions--so I have to park on the street.) I only lost traction once. (Note to self: go THROUGH yellow light on the snowy road, don't try to stop.) We went and played at a friend's house this morning and then made a trip to Costco. It was really cold (again, the joys of a detached garage. Makes carrying groceries in quite an adventure!)

I may live to eat these words...but...I really, really LIKE the winter weather here. I get to actually wear fun scarves and gloves and it is so, so beautiful. I LOVE the different seasons and it is a really neat way to see God's majesty in the world He has made. My kids are loving it too.

I just started the book Sacred Marriage, for my mom's group at church. So far it's good, and pretty interesting. The subtitle is, "What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?" (See, doesn't it sound intriguing?) Semi-related sidenote: I love being married.

Yesterday I found a copy of The Maker's Diet at a second-hand store for $2.99. Cannot WAIT to read it!!!

Remember how I bought these great alphabet cards? Well I started putting them up on the wall in the kids' playroom. I did "A" through "F". And I've misplaced the box. I cannot find it ANYwhere. When I told Anna I don't know where it is and therefore I can't finish putting them up, she quickly informed me, "That's why you should put them up all at the same time." Wow. Thanks.

Okay, that is all. Happy Monday!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Happy Birthday Rebekah!

Rebekah is my lifelong BFF. We met on the first day of third grade at Creston Elementary School and have been close ever since (going on 20 years! Wow!) We've spent tons of time together doing all sorts of fun and silly things.

Our oldest girls were babies together (Claire is 8 months older than Anna) and as a new, young mom I don't know how I would have survived without Rebekah's friendship or wisdom. Seriously. I was 22 years old when Anna was born and I didn't know anyone else having babies. I remember being pregnant and going over to her house and seeing her with her new baby Claire and feeling so encouraged. She even happened to be at my house when I went into labor with Anna, and hung out until Kevin got home to take me to the hospital. I miss her terribly but got to visit her and her sweet girls while we were in California.

Now our daughters Anna and Claire have a special bond. It's amazing.

Anyway, today is Rebekah's birthday and I had to do a shout-out on my blog. Happy Birthday RJ!!!

Now check out these rockin' pictures of us.

At good ol' Camp Challenge at Lopez Lake in junior high

Ringing in the New Year with Yanni (?!) our freshman year of high school

Disneyland for Rebekah's birthday senior year of high school

High school graduation

Second-generation BFFs. :) Summer 2006


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